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Main > Japanese folktales > Fairy tale "The stones of five colors and the empress Jokwa"

The stones of five colors and the empress Jokwa

But the old man appeared not in the least dismayed, and calmly awaited the wizard's onslaught.

As Kokai drew near, the old man laughed aloud merrily, and turning into a large and beautiful white crane, flapped his wings and flew upwards into the heavens.

When Hako and Eiko saw this, they knew that their deliverer was no mere human being—was perhaps a god in disguise—and they hoped later on to find out who the venerable old man was.

In the meantime they had retreated, and it being now the close of day, for the sun was setting, both Kokai and the young warriors gave up the idea of fighting more that day.

That night Hako and Eiko decided that it was useless to fight against the wizard Kokai, for he had supernatural powers, while they were only human. So they presented themselves before the Empress Jokwa. After a long consultation, the Empress decided to ask the Fire King, Shikuyu, to help her against the rebel wizard and to lead her army against him.

Now Shikuyu, the Fire King, lived at the South Pole. It was the only safe place for him to be in, for he burnt up everything around him anywhere else, but it was impossible to burn up ice and snow. To look at he was a giant, and stood thirty feet high. His face was just like marble, and his hair and beard long and as white as snow. His strength was stupendous, and he was master of all fire just as Kokai was of water.

"Surely," thought the Empress, "Shikuyu can conquer Kokai." So she sent Eiko to the South Pole to beg Shikuyu to take the war against Kokai into his own hands and conquer him once for all.

The Fire King, on hearing the Empress's request, smiled and said:

"That is an easy matter, to be sure! It was none other than I who came to your rescue when you and your companion were drowning in the flood raised by Kokai!"

Eiko was surprised at learning this. He thanked the Fire King for coming to the rescue in their dire need, and then besought him to return with him and lead the war and defeat the wicked Kokai.

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